Saturday, January 29, 2011


Joel and I were recalling a time about a month after Maura's death. It was a good 90+ degrees, a hot a humid Houston summer day. And the air conditioning was broken.  Walking up the path to our front door was a United States Marine in full dress blues. Is that what the fancy uniform is called? He looked impressive, almost regal. When we answered the doorbell, I recognized him: Michael, a boy I hadn't seen since he was in middle school. Maura had a crush on him when she was in sixth grade. He played the Wizard to her Wicked Witch of the West in the school play.

We laughed a lot when she got that part. Type casting? No, but she must have shown them that she could cackle. She came home crying the day that the cast list was posted. I tried to console her, knowing that sixth-graders rarely got cast in the play. She sobbed and sobbed, unable to speak. 
I asked, knowing the answer already, "You didn't get a part in the play?"
"Yes, I did," she managed to blurt out, "I'm the Wicked Witch of the West." Giant sob.
What? I was confused. Was she sad because she was cast as the witch? It's a great part, but maybe she wanted to be somebody prettier?"
"Are you upset that you got cast as the witch?"
She stopped crying for a nano-second to give me that wonderful look of sheer disgust that I could be so stupid.
(I did not see the look again until she was in 8th grade, when it became her constant companion for a year.) Then, the floodwaters again. "So-and-so was mean to me on the bus."
This is what parents are good at: laughing on the inside, while maintaining a sympathetic tone on the outside.
What followed was an awesome discussion about not letting others rob you of your joy, one parental talk that she listened to and obviously put into practice.

Eleven years later, the Wizard, disguised as a grown-up marine, came to pay his respects. He brought flowers and apologized for missing the funeral, but he was stationed in California and couldn't get back until now. I was a lousy hostess, still very much out of my mind. He was obviously uncomfortable from the heat inside my house, but I think he had to ask for water because I forgot to offer him anything. His uniform looked heavy. Someone ran for the small fan and aimed it directly on him.  We spoke of his future and Maura's past.
A good visit.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

This is the Maura I remember. :) Michael, Maura and I spent a lot of time together. He adored her. I have some fun pictures of a day we all put make up on each other. He made us look ridiculous. It was wonderful.

I remember her as the wicked witch and how she had such a difficult time getting the green make up off after the show. She was fabulous, of course.

And I remember "that face" from 8th grade. We used to laugh about it later quite a bit.

I found something she made me the other day when I was at my mom's house. It was a collage of pictures of us that she framed. She made the frame out of jumbo popsicle sticks and wrote cute BFF messages all over it in sharpie. She even put one popsicle stick on the back as the kick stand for the frame. Clearly she intended it to be displayed proudly. And it is now. Among all of the other fancily framed photos in my apartment, this one is by far my most treasured. It makes me smile.